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Surly LHT Touring Bike Size Help!

Old 06-29-20, 10:52 AM
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MLux
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Surly LHT Touring Bike Size Help!

Hey bike gurus, enthusiasts, racers, and party pacers alike. Would love the collective bike forum gods' advice on a bike size and situation that I've been agonizing over for way too long.

Two main questions with lots of context below:
1) Is my 46cm Surly LHT too small for me? Would 50cm be more appropriate, or even larger??
2) If you feel so inclined... What size touring bike would you recommend in other popular touring bikes that won't completely break the bank? (Thinking Trek520 and Fuji Touring but very open to suggestions)

Context below:
I recently snagged a used Surly Long Haul Trucker (46cm) & am hoping to do some multi day tours. However, I'm fairly certain the bike is too small for me, particularly for the more relaxed, French fit, upright, touring position I'm looking for. I think I'm looking for 0 or even slightly negative drop? (Open to other thoughts) I've gone to two LBS. One told me and I quote "you look way too compact on that thing. It's too small." and the other "I like this bike for you. I think you can make it work. (with a stem riser and adjustable stem to start, to figure out height/angle)" So, I'm incredibly torn. All research and measurements I've done say it "should" fit based on my size. Though I'm right on the upper edge of the size bracket. But my gut feel when I'm on it says it's too small. However, I can't bear to give it up yet without some other opinions. Details about my size and the bike itself are below.

My Measurements:
Total Height- 63.5 in (5ft 3 in)
Actual Inseam- 30.35 In
Trunk- 22.24 In
Forearm- 10.5 In
Arm- 24.125 In
Thigh- 22 In
Lower Leg-19 In
Sternal Notch-50 In

Other Bikes I ride comfortably, yet more aggressively with some handlebar drop:
Specialized Ruby Expert- 48cm frame- 517mm top tube (horizontal)- 700.7mm standover height
Van Nicholas Custom Performance Road Bike -45cm frame - 524mm top tube (horizontal)- 715cm standover height
[Compare to the Surly LHT: 46cm frame - 515 mm top tube (horizontal) -723.2 standover height]

Bike Details:
a) Surly LHT, 46cm- every thing stock EXCEPT stem and handlebars. Stem looks to be about 50 mm (vs original 70mm) with a very aggressively upright stem angle compared to the original stem angle(photo attached). The handlebars themselves are slightly less wide than the originals. 4 spacers already sitting below the stem. Even with this, my saddle is still a few cm above the tops of the bars.
b) When I ride out of the saddle, I feel I'm way too far forward, like I have to stand upright to stay balanced. Cannot lean on the hoods as they're too close to me when standing. My knees are also capable of hitting the bar end shifters when standing. Wondering if this could be remedied with the original handlebar BUT seems that would create an even more aggressive drop (longer stem at less steep stem angle).

If you've stuck with me this long, thank you Would love to hear some thoughts from the forum!!

Back to my main two questions:
1) Is my 46cm Surly LHT too small for me? Would 50cm be more appropriate, or even larger??
2) If you feel so inclined... What size touring bike would you recommend in other popular touring bikes that won't completely break the bank? (Thinking Trek520 and Fuji Touring but very open to suggestions)
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Old 06-29-20, 01:01 PM
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I have 2 daughters who ride Surly LHTs . One is 5' tall, and rides a 42 cm; the other is 5' 5" and rides a 50 cm frame. My wife is 5'3" and rides a custom built 47 cm, and I know this one fits perfectly. The difference between the 46 and 50 cm bikes is only 1.5". LHTs has a longer top tube compared to most bikes, which increases the reach. I ride a LHT and found that I had to use a shorter stem than my other 58 cm bikes to get the same reach. This is a plus in your case. What are the size of the spacers below your stem? Do you have any steerer tube left above the stem? What length stems are on your other bikes?

I'm just making a guess using the the information you gave, and my experience with my family. IMO, if the bike feels too small for you , it probably is. If there is no steering tube left above the stem to raise the bars level with the saddle without using an extender, it is probably too small. Hopefully, you will get other opinions that may help. It sounds like you already know that fit is the most important thing.

Both daughters rode their Mom's 50 cm road bike and her older 50 cm touring bike without any issues.

The 42 cm bike is first, the 47 cm bike second, and the 50 cm bike is last. The five-footer on the front bike has a 17 degree short stem, 50-60 mm. I think she could use a longer stem and less angle, but she likes it and has ridden it that way for several thousand miles. When I cut the steering tube for her, I left 10 cm above the stem just in case she changes her mind.


Fifty cm frame with 5'5" rider. She is on top of the bars, and this seems like a good fit. Her seat height , and saddle/knee were positioned,and stem length determined for her desired reach.


This is how the 50 cm bike is set up for a 5' 5" rider with long legs and arms. There is not a lot of seat post showing (about 4"), and the seat is close to level with the bars.

Last edited by Doug64; 06-29-20 at 11:22 PM.
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Old 06-30-20, 04:13 AM
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Hi MLux, I see your a new poster, so welcome to Bikeforums.net

Just making you aware of another forum, albeit with a dedicated Surly section to pose your question

https://forums.mtbr.com/surly/
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Old 06-30-20, 07:16 AM
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Cheers, rifraf ! You're right, very new to the forums and loving the community. I scoured many posts for a while as an outsider before deciding to post my own when I still wasn't sure. Hopefully I can pay it forward in the future. Anyways, thanks! I'll throw this post in there as well!
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Old 06-30-20, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by MLux View Post
... One told me and I quote "you look way too compact on that thing. It's too small." and the other "I like this bike for you. I think you can make it work. (with a stem riser and adjustable stem to start, to figure out height/angle)" So, I'm incredibly torn. All research and measurements I've done say it "should" fit based on my size. ...
all the research and measurements won't tell you if the bike fits.

have you tried the advice to install a stem riser and adjustable stem?

seems like you would have the answer right there as to will the bike fit.
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Old 06-30-20, 07:38 AM
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Thanks Doug64 ! All that information and the photos were super helpful. (Also, awesome your whole squad rides together! ) See, even the sizing of your daughters' bikes suggest that I "should" be able to make this 46 work! However, a photo of me sitting on the bike is VERY compact looking, not at all like your 5'5" daughter on her 50cm frame. My knees are so close to the handlebars even when sitting. (Sorry, I realized as a newbie I couldn't yet post a photo, bummer). This is partially a product of the former owner's 50mm stem & sharp angle instead of the stock 70mm at a more moderate angle. I have that stock stem and handlebar to swap in, but that would actually increase reach and lower the handlebar height, so I don't think that's the solution. I should also mention that the saddle is pushed all the way backwards to the maximum, but my gut feel there is that I'd like to move it back a bit further not because of the reach but more because of my lower half, where I put my weight & how close my legs are to the bars.

I think the issue may be that I have a slightly longer inseam than expected for my height (short), with an average length torso/arms. Inseam is 30.35in which causes me to have to jack up the saddle height, and then boom, the tops of my bars are way below it. My gut feel is probably that I need a larger frame so that with my saddle height there is not a lot of seat post showing, and then perhaps a short stem to accommodate the longer reach BUT a longer steerer tube to get that handlebar height up. Thoughts? It makes me wonder if I'd even be okay on the 50cm frame.

To answer your questions:
There are four 10mm spacers below the stem. There is no steerer tube left. It sits just below the stem (a 2-3mm maybe) when I take off the top cap.
The Specialized Ruby I ride has a 75mm stem. The Van Nicholas Custom has a 90 mm stem.
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Old 06-30-20, 08:53 AM
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Hi,
I have been a bike tourist for a long time... I am 5'- 6" tall and my wife is 5' 3" and we ran/ owned helped people out in our bicycle stores for over 12 years. There is something called BBS (big bike syndrome) people end up on too big of a bike. For touring I ride a 42 cm and I would not consider anything bigger. Now depending on how much gear you end up putting on your rear rack, a lot of bike tourists find out that their foot can get caught up on stuff on top of the rack, and find out that it is easier/ better to put your foot over the top tube. So, A lower top tube is an advantage. You need to get away from those short stems, they are making you think the frame is small. Our stores usually stocked 50 stems from 50 to 135mm long. They come in different rises too. take your bike to a store that stock stems and try out some longer ones, I am sure that all of a sudden your "small" frame will feel plenty big.
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Old 06-30-20, 09:36 AM
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Thanks @headwind15! Very insightful that you are comfortable on a 42cm. Curious what make/model you ride? Also, when you say different rises (referring to the stem) is that the same thing as what I'm calling the stem angle? Or does it have to do with a stem riser?

I've heard of BBS certainly and that's why I was originally comfortable going for the 46cm instead of the 50cm. I tend to err on the side of "smaller is better" as well, but I wasn't sure if a touring bike geometry changed that. (Ridden different road bikes for a handful of years but this is my first touring bike.)

The Surly LHT seems to have a long top tube relative to frame size. Which seems the exact opposite of what I need based on my longer inseam compared to my height. The reach on the 50cm LHT is only 3mm longer than on the 46cm. However, the stack is 30mm taller! So I wonder if that would be a much better fit?

I hear what you're saying. Main consensus I've gotten is to start by switching back to the stock 70mm stem and go from there. Basically, play around with that stem height/angle and this bike should fit me? One more thing I should mention in this realm is that the saddle is pushed backwards on the seat tube as much as possible and I still feel like I want it to go a little more. Not based on reach but more based on my sit bones/knee positioning. Maybe a longer stem/reach would help this as well.
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Old 06-30-20, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by MLux View Post
Thanks @headwind15! Very insightful that you are comfortable on a 42cm. Curious what make/model you ride? Also, when you say different rises (referring to the stem) is that the same thing as what I'm calling the stem angle? Or does it have to do with a stem riser?

I've heard of BBS certainly and that's why I was originally comfortable going for the 46cm instead of the 50cm. I tend to err on the side of "smaller is better" as well, but I wasn't sure if a touring bike geometry changed that. (Ridden different road bikes for a handful of years but this is my first touring bike.)

The Surly LHT seems to have a long top tube relative to frame size. Which seems the exact opposite of what I need based on my longer inseam compared to my height. The reach on the 50cm LHT is only 3mm longer than on the 46cm. However, the stack is 30mm taller! So I wonder if that would be a much better fit?

I hear what you're saying. Main consensus I've gotten is to start by switching back to the stock 70mm stem and go from there. Basically, play around with that stem height/angle and this bike should fit me? One more thing I should mention in this realm is that the saddle is pushed backwards on the seat tube as much as possible and I still feel like I want it to go a little more. Not based on reach but more based on my sit bones/knee positioning. Maybe a longer stem/reach would help this as well.

Seat fore and aft position should not be used to adjust reach; it should be used to adjust knee position to the pedal.
Your knee position looks OK in the photos, but if you are unsure try the method below:

Put your bike on a trainer or position it close to a wall or table, which will you to hold it vertical when sitting on the seat. With someone helping you position your seat height so your knee forms an angle of approximately 170 degrees. Sitting on your bike pedal backward a few revolutions, stop pedaling, and position your crank arms at the 6/9 o'clock position. Using a plumb bob, any small item on the end of a string, drop a line from the point just below your forward knee to your foot. The tip of the plumb bob should be over the center of the pedal's spindle. This is a good start for seat positioning. Check your reach after making those adjustments, and it should give you a good idea about where your reach would be.

I also believe that the steerer tube was cut to fit a shorter person than you. Forty mm is not much space. The nice thing about new LHTs is the forks' steerer tubes come uncut. This allows a lot of flexibility for bar height adjustment. Trying an adjustable stem and steerer extender is expensive. Adjustable stems are about $45 and the steerer extenders are $35. A new LHT fork costs $80, which is what you would probably want after trying the extender.

My wife took a look at your photos in the MBF, and had some thoughts. She is knowledgeable about bike fitting. Do your hips rock at all when you pedal? If they do, she suggested lowering your seat about 1/4" at a time until the hips are stable when pedalling. She also thought raising the stem is the best way to meet your needs. It will also shorten your reach a little. She thought a larger frame and short stem might work. Can you test ride a 50 mm LHT?

Looking at your pictures, I'd estimate the setback of your seatpost is about 15 mm. A 25 or 30 mm setback might help. It may also mess up your pedal/knee position.

My understanding is you wanted to raise the bars to be level with the saddle for a more upright riding position. Is that correct?

Last edited by Doug64; 06-30-20 at 10:12 PM.
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Old 06-30-20, 12:49 PM
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Hi, Yes the stem rise that I referred to is the angle . I would recommend that you measure (on your road bike) Because, it sounds like you like the reach on that bike. The distance from the saddle nose to the stem center. Now measure (on the Surly) the distance from the saddle nose to the stem center. Compare distances. The difference between the two is how much longer a stem will make it to your preferred reach. Calculating the stem angle that will work can likely be figured out as well. The model of bikes I have...I build Ravello frames, and have aluminum and steel ones plus a Windsor tourist. For me the magic number for me is 19.25 ", from seat to the stem center, but this is not about me. You need to know what your preferred reach is for you. I usually use about a 100mm stem. I would go crazy if I were to put 70mm stems on my bikes. Likely to feel like my hands were on my knees. I do definitely recommend that you ditch the 70 stem.
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Old 06-30-20, 01:51 PM
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Mlux, it seems very clear to me that the 46cm is very close to the other bikes you ride, and all you need to do is to increase the stem length.
I am 5'10.5" and one of my most comfortable bikes is a 56cm with probably a 90mm stem, and another of my most comfortable bikes has a slightly longer toptube than the first bike, and I use a 50mm stem. I can ride both bikes day after day after week with no problems, so be assured that stem changes are completely easy to do, can make all the difference in the world for riding comfort, and despite what some people worry about, do not affect steering etc.
My surly troll with the short 50mm stem steers perfectly well with dropbars.
Your advantage is that if the LHT has a 70mm stem on it, you can easily put a 100mm or longer on it and this will open up your riding position immediately.
I can change out stems in less than 5 mins, and there are perfectly fine new stems out there for 25 or 30 dollars. You do NOT need to put a $100 or more stem on your bike, no matter what someone tells you.
You really have the advantage of needing a longer stem, to increase reach. I can't tell you how many times I've tried fixing bikes for women friends of mine who have been sold too large bikes, and there just isn't room to put shorter stems on.

I'm confident this bike can work for you.
An honest, good bicycle store will have a box full of test stems, and can easily and quickly swap out various ones for you, and you'll see how easily this changes how the bike feels. And as you know, a more angled stem can help bring the bars up a bit also.
Get back with photos when you can, side shots in riding position is best with hands on hoods.
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Old 06-30-20, 01:55 PM
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Ps sliding your seat back in the rails is fine to do, I have done this with bikes, with no problems.
The opposite, sliding forward to reduce reach to bars, is generally not good for the knees.
I have one knee that can be a bit sensitive, but seat slid back has never caused issues, the opposite however has in the past before I knew better, when I pushed a seat all the way forward for a bike a bit too big.
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Old 07-01-20, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
Seat fore and aft position should not be used to adjust reach; it should be used to adjust knee position to the pedal.
Your knee position looks OK in the photos, but if you are unsure try the method below:

Put your bike on a trainer or position it close to a wall or table, which will you to hold it vertical when sitting on the seat. With someone helping you position your seat height so your knee forms an angle of approximately 170 degrees. Sitting on your bike pedal backward a few revolutions, stop pedaling, and position your crank arms at the 6/9 o'clock position. Using a plumb bob, any small item on the end of a string, drop a line from the point just below your forward knee to your foot. The tip of the plumb bob should be over the center of the pedal's spindle. This is a good start for seat positioning. Check your reach after making those adjustments, and it should give you a good idea about where your reach would be.

I also believe that the steerer tube was cut to fit a shorter person than you. Forty mm is not much space. The nice thing about new LHTs is the forks' steerer tubes come uncut. This allows a lot of flexibility for bar height adjustment. Trying an adjustable stem and steerer extender is expensive. Adjustable stems are about $45 and the steerer extenders are $35. A new LHT fork costs $80, which is what you would probably want after trying the extender.

My wife took a look at your photos in the MBF, and had some thoughts. She is knowledgeable about bike fitting. Do your hips rock at all when you pedal? If they do, she suggested lowering your seat about 1/4" at a time until the hips are stable when pedalling. She also thought raising the stem is the best way to meet your needs. It will also shorten your reach a little. She thought a larger frame and short stem might work. Can you test ride a 50 mm LHT?

Looking at your pictures, I'd estimate the setback of your seatpost is about 15 mm. A 25 or 30 mm setback might help. It may also mess up your pedal/knee position.

My understanding is you wanted to raise the bars to be level with the saddle for a more upright riding position. Is that correct?
Thanks Doug64 . I'll try the plumb bob to check my seat fore and aft positioning. My knees feel pretty good when riding (minus distance from the bars, which we know is a reach and stem adjustment) but I find myself wanting to push backwards on the seat itself. According to the rails on the saddle, it is already pushed back the maximum amount. To achieve a greater seat post setback, I would need a new seat post, correct? One that angles backwards at the top?

Thanks to your wife as well for her insights and chasing down the MBF photos! I know my saddle perhaps looks high but my hips do not rock when I ride. I think this saddle height is the one thing I've figured out! But I'll make sure. Unfortunately, there are no Surlys to be found anywhere nearby that I can test! It does seem like the 50cm would fit with less adjustment. (I ran into this same issue before picking up the used bike and that's probably why this forum exists at all!) When she suggests "raising the stem" is that both lengthening the stem AND the stem angle? Or literally using a stem riser? Someone also recommended a BBB steerer extender to me. He said it's basically invisible when installed as you cover the extension with spacers, and can give you up to 80mm. I feel like this will look really strange, and basically like my bike has a giant long head tube? I'm not sure. I generally worry that if I'm adjusting the stem so much, it may just be worth buying a bike that fits me better.

You're correct, I want a slightly more upright riding position (seems so minimal but makes a difference) for longer tours. Or at least, I want to tops of my bars to allow for that upright position to start, and then I can adjust my hands to the hoods and drops as I ride of course. I don't want my most "relaxed" position on the tops of the bars to be too aggressive.

Finally, got your PM. It's strange as the forum allows me to see it via email but does not allow me to respond until I've posted 10 posts... Super kind of you to offer, but I can pick one up! Thanks very much though!
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Old 07-01-20, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by headwind15 View Post
Hi, Yes the stem rise that I referred to is the angle . I would recommend that you measure (on your road bike) Because, it sounds like you like the reach on that bike. The distance from the saddle nose to the stem center. Now measure (on the Surly) the distance from the saddle nose to the stem center. Compare distances. The difference between the two is how much longer a stem will make it to your preferred reach. Calculating the stem angle that will work can likely be figured out as well. The model of bikes I have...I build Ravello frames, and have aluminum and steel ones plus a Windsor tourist. For me the magic number for me is 19.25 ", from seat to the stem center, but this is not about me. You need to know what your preferred reach is for you. I usually use about a 100mm stem. I would go crazy if I were to put 70mm stems on my bikes. Likely to feel like my hands were on my knees. I do definitely recommend that you ditch the 70 stem.
When I do this measurement though, is it horizontal and the tape measure actually is above the stem center when I'm measuring? Or do I account for drop (which would add length) and the tape measure is on a slight angle, not parallel with the ground?

When I just measured (without keeping the tape measure parallel), the Surly distance is appx 15 in. My road bike (the Ruby) is 17in. However, I ride the Ruby in a more aggressive position than I want to ride the Surly. I see how that maybe doesn't matter though, and that positioning is actually achieved by the stem angle. Correct? (Hope I'm making some sense!)

Basically, you're saying a longer stem will make the bike feel bigger, but at a stem angle where I can achieve the zero drop, saddle height = handelbar height that I'm looking for. Yes?
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Old 07-01-20, 08:56 AM
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Mlux, I forgot to add that my 5 foot wife's bike is an XS surly troll, and her road bike is a similar sized giant women's frame, so at 5'3" you would certainly seem to be in the ballpark.

re those "extenders", I've bought and installed one for an older friend, they do work, but personally I find them pretty darn ugly, but that's neither here nor there.

if your hips don't rock, that's a great sign.
My troll with dropbars has the drops in a conservative height, and I can very much comfortably ride in the drops for big headwinds, this is a real advantage.
here is my troll where you can see bar height. My seat is more level now.
you can see the really short stem.
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Old 07-01-20, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
Mlux, it seems very clear to me that the 46cm is very close to the other bikes you ride, and all you need to do is to increase the stem length.
I am 5'10.5" and one of my most comfortable bikes is a 56cm with probably a 90mm stem, and another of my most comfortable bikes has a slightly longer toptube than the first bike, and I use a 50mm stem. I can ride both bikes day after day after week with no problems, so be assured that stem changes are completely easy to do, can make all the difference in the world for riding comfort, and despite what some people worry about, do not affect steering etc.
My surly troll with the short 50mm stem steers perfectly well with dropbars.
Your advantage is that if the LHT has a 70mm stem on it, you can easily put a 100mm or longer on it and this will open up your riding position immediately.
I can change out stems in less than 5 mins, and there are perfectly fine new stems out there for 25 or 30 dollars. You do NOT need to put a $100 or more stem on your bike, no matter what someone tells you.
You really have the advantage of needing a longer stem, to increase reach. I can't tell you how many times I've tried fixing bikes for women friends of mine who have been sold too large bikes, and there just isn't room to put shorter stems on.

I'm confident this bike can work for you.
An honest, good bicycle store will have a box full of test stems, and can easily and quickly swap out various ones for you, and you'll see how easily this changes how the bike feels. And as you know, a more angled stem can help bring the bars up a bit also.
Get back with photos when you can, side shots in riding position is best with hands on hoods.
Thanks djb . I can definitely swap out this stem for the original, but I just realized I'll also have to swap the handlebars back to the original (I want to do this anyways, the bar on there now feels too narrow) so it'll take me a bit longer. The original bar is not as wide as the new one and thus doesn't fit with the 50mm stem.

The stock stem angle is nowhere near as steep as the one on there now. (I wish I knew what the angles were exactly, but I don't) So, longer stem but find one that allows me to keep the same steep angle? Will this make me any more upright? I don't think you can get any more rise or much more of an angle than the stem I have now.
So, in my brain, increasing my reach at the same stem angle actually means I'll be in an even more aggressive position. Am I off base here?

I also had a few folks recommend gravel "riser" bars to give me a few more cms up front too... Like that idea over any sort of stem riser or BBB extender... open to more thoughts always!
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Old 07-01-20, 09:02 AM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by headwind15 View Post
Hi, Yes the stem rise that I referred to is the angle . I would recommend that you measure (on your road bike) Because, it sounds like you like the reach on that bike. The distance from the saddle nose to the stem center. Now measure (on the Surly) the distance from the saddle nose to the stem center. Compare distances. The difference between the two is how much longer a stem will make it to your preferred reach. Calculating the stem angle that will work can likely be figured out as well. The model of bikes I have...I build Ravello frames, and have aluminum and steel ones plus a Windsor tourist. For me the magic number for me is 19.25 ", from seat to the stem center, but this is not about me. You need to know what your preferred reach is for you. I usually use about a 100mm stem. I would go crazy if I were to put 70mm stems on my bikes. Likely to feel like my hands were on my knees. I do definitely recommend that you ditch the 70 stem.
Also headwind15 wanted to ask how you like the Windsor tourist?
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Old 07-01-20, 09:09 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by MLux View Post
When I do this measurement though, is it horizontal and the tape measure actually is above the stem center when I'm measuring? Or do I account for drop (which would add length) and the tape measure is on a slight angle, not parallel with the ground?

When I just measured (without keeping the tape measure parallel), the Surly distance is appx 15 in. My road bike (the Ruby) is 17in. However, I ride the Ruby in a more aggressive position than I want to ride the Surly. I see how that maybe doesn't matter though, and that positioning is actually achieved by the stem angle. Correct? (Hope I'm making some sense!)

Basically, you're saying a longer stem will make the bike feel bigger, but at a stem angle where I can achieve the zero drop, saddle height = handelbar height that I'm looking for. Yes?
my go fast bike clearly has a more aggressive position like your ruby, and that's fine. What I've very much found for touring, as you want, that a more conservative setup is really nice for touring, so a steeper,longer stem like a 110 or something will really improve things in both reach and height.
Whenever I've done stem changes, I've taken good measurements to have before and after numbers, and also eyeballed the change holding different stems up against the bike, not exact exact, but pretty good.

good luck trying out stems
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Old 07-01-20, 11:04 AM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by MLux View Post
Thanks djb . I can definitely swap out this stem for the original, but I just realized I'll also have to swap the handlebars back to the original (I want to do this anyways, the bar on there now feels too narrow) so it'll take me a bit longer. The original bar is not as wide as the new one and thus doesn't fit with the 50mm stem.

The stock stem angle is nowhere near as steep as the one on there now. (I wish I knew what the angles were exactly, but I don't) So, longer stem but find one that allows me to keep the same steep angle? Will this make me any more upright? I don't think you can get any more rise or much more of an angle than the stem I have now.
So, in my brain, increasing my reach at the same stem angle actually means I'll be in an even more aggressive position. Am I off base here?

I also had a few folks recommend gravel "riser" bars to give me a few more cms up front too... Like that idea over any sort of stem riser or BBB extender... open to more thoughts always!
sorry, hadn't seen this message when I wrote the last one.
bar width (42cm 44, whatever) has no bearing on what stem is used, so don't worry about that
oh, do you think the steerer tube was cut down on this bike? My troll has the bars at the top of the uncut steerer, with lots of spacers, so i was lucky it was uncut as i bought it used also. And there are loads of spacers under my bars, but i don't care

we'd have to see photos of the stem on your bike to get an idea of angle, but yes,you'd need another angled one, but a lot longer, to put bars both further out and up.
measure your short stem, measure from middle to middle of clamp areas.
so you might need a same or steeper angle, but a lot longer, look at your bars and stem from side to visualize a different one, of where you think you want the bars to be, in both height and reach.

and yes, if needed,bars like on the new disc trucker could add a few vertical cms, but you'll have to figure that out.
I put slightly flaredout bars on my troll, salsa cowbells. These are very common now, these type of bars, and I personally like them a lot, especially with front panniers and a handlebar bag of weight on the front of bike for more steering leverage. I've toured a lot on rough roads in Latin America and these bars were great for this aspect, along with the shown bar/seat height for comfort and headwinds.
but of course, every rider flexibility etc is different, at whatever age too.
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Old 07-01-20, 11:10 AM
  #20  
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If comfortable, you could also take a well lined up sideways shot of you on the bike, hands on hoods, just crop out top of photo.
cuz frankly, this is all guesswork here on our part.
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Old 07-01-20, 04:17 PM
  #21  
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The reason I'm so interested in this thread is I have the same issue and can empathize with the OP when it comes to bike fitting. My inseam/ trunk ratio is within 2% of her's, and "normal" sized bikes don't work well for me without some modifications. Being 5' 3" or 5' 11"doesn't matter, we both have the same problem. Most stock bikes come with pre-cut steerer tubes. Most of the time bar height and reach can be adjusted with with stem length and angle. But for people with long legs and shorter torsos that remedy does not work very well. For us it is always seems to be a compromise when trying to get the saddle and bars level while maintaining the desired reach. I find having the saddle and bars level combined with the correct stem length and angle allows me to dial in a comfortable riding position .

The problem is increasing the bar height on a short steerer tube. a large angle stem, 35 degrees, increase the bar height some, but it is often not enough. Raising the bar height may require replacing the existing fork with one with an uncut steerer tube.


The 58 cm LHT with and uncut steerer tube was the easiest to set up with saddle level with the bars. Look at the relationship between the saddle, bars and the bridge railing. The bars and saddle are level. A 70 mm stem (6 degrees) with 60 mm of spacers was used to get the desired reach. When I finally cut the steerer tube I left 10 mm of steerer tube above the stem in case I wanted more adjustment. There is a about 15 mm in this picture, the first year I used this bike.


This 57 cm Bianchi, my favorite touring bike, took a little more work. I replaced the fork with one with an uncut steerer tube and used 70 mm of spacers with a 80 (6 degrees) mm stem. That is one of the compromises; 70 or 80 mm of spacers are not pretty. Both bikes fit me the same. I've ridden both of them on multi-month tours, and have no problems with the fit. The point of all this is finding a bike that fits pretty close, and figure out how you can raise the bars so they are level with the saddle (if that is your objective). Putting a longer stem regardless of it's angle is not going to reduce the reach, which is needed to provide a more upright riding position. This is especially true when the OP is already starting with a very short stem with about a 35 degree angle.


Last edited by Doug64; 07-02-20 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 07-01-20, 05:56 PM
  #22  
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I'm like Doug, I've generally had to put shorter stems on bikes, and at 5'10.5" my great fitting 54cm Tricross , 545mm toptube and I think 90mm stem works great, although with seat moved back on rails---but officially this bike is too small for me. I guess I could put a 100 or 105mm stem on it, but it works as is great.

My med troll has a longer tt, hence the short 50mm stem, but it's great for me too.

my 30 year old tourer was a 56 and always a bit too far stretched out for me, so at least I had its measurements to know how I wanted a bike with less reach, which I measured out on my Tricross in stores when researching bikes.

So while a 54 is not to be my size, it sure does work for me. Who knows, maybe falling off motorcycles a few times crinked my back a bit, but all I know is that if I can ride a 54 all week and be fine physically, that's all I care.
AND like I said, I can easily stretch myself out a bit more with a longer stem, some pro riders do this all the time.

Doug, I agree with you, but mlux does say that she wants the bars both higher and farther away, so I must assume the steerer was cut down, so an angled upwards stem is needed to get the bars up, but it also has to be longer and angled up to get it higher up and further forward.
I haven't seen the existing stem so maybe I'm misunderstanding, but she certainly does that she feels cramped a bit.
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Old 07-01-20, 07:06 PM
  #23  
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David, I am coming from the understanding that she wanted a more upright riding position, which would require a shorter reach. Lengthening the stem would give her more room in the cockpit, but even with a steep angled stem it would still stretch her out. Look at the link in post #3 ; it will link to her pictures. I may be on the wrong track. It has happened before
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Old 07-01-20, 08:03 PM
  #24  
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Mlux, finally saw the photos, and it does look like you are cramped, which does match up with what you described.
in the shot where we can see the stem, yup it's a real angled one, and pretty short.
Seems logical to me that a much longer stem, but maybe even as angled as this one, will put the bars higher, and a certain amount further forward, hopefully opening up the cramped feeling you described.

like the fellow here said who ran a bike store for years, any good shop will have tons of stems, and you'll quickly be able to feel an immediate difference with different stem tryouts and assess if you can get the bars up and forward a bit.

I'd just mention again that a slightly more relaxed, ie higher bar height, is really nice for touring, but sometimes you just gotta live with a setup and ride for a bunch of days to feel what will work best for you. Generally touring we aren't hammering like on a hard ride, so having the bar to seat drop less than a road bike, is nice. I prefer my troll bars like they are in the photo, also nice when riding over a lot of crappy bumpy roads.

and hey, worst case scenario, you should be able to easily resell the LHT if it doesn't work out. Not many good used touring bikes on the market in this area, so they sell well.
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Old 07-02-20, 10:35 AM
  #25  
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Thanks djb and Doug64 , really helpful to see the photos and hear the explanations. I'm sorry I couldn't include photos in this post, but glad you could see them on the other one. (I guess I have to have 10 posts in the forums in order to do so!)

You guys seem pretty spot on and also on the same page. I think I'm there as well. In summary, I need to be more spread out on the bike so I definitely need a longer stem BUT I also need to A) live with/get used to the more aggressive drop or B) raise the bars using an angled stem, more spacers, replace the fork, use a BBB extender etc. Many options for this part. Really appreciate you helping me understand and get to this point.

I'm wondering if it's just more worth it to start with a bike that fits me better. (Thinking about the Fuji Disc Touring at 49cm. Though now stressed the 52cm might be better! Ha!) As I said, I snagged this Surly LHT used for a steal, and thought I could likely make it work. But it starting to feel I may get more bang for my buck and a lot less hassle selling it and starting fresh. djb, you're right about the used touring bike market. I've been scouring it! But it's very tough for touring in general, for my size, and with the cycling world going a bit crazy right now. My LBS is inundated.
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